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    The vision thing

    Heather Mac Donald goes off on one of my pet peeves: the fake-high-minded contempt for “business” constantly poured out by government officials, most of whom wouldn’t know a life-enhancing innovation if it jumped up and bit ’em in the ass:

    Today it’s insurance and drug companies, tomorrow it’s oil producers, toy companies, banks, chemical manufacturers, or any number of other enterprises that offer necessary or simply life-enhancing products and services. The preening self-righteousness towards for-profit economic activity is not specific to any particular legislative initiative such as “health care reform,” it is part of the psychological make-up of many politicians and huge swathes of educated professionals, including virtually the entire academic world and non-profit sector, the media, and many high-paid lawyers. It is simply unbearable to hear these sheltered senators and congressmen look down upon people who have had the guts to try to create something that other people want to buy; who have had to figure out intricate supply chains and methods of financing; who have had to organize and motivate their employees; and who take financial risks with no guarantee of reward. For the anti-business mindset, the fact that businessmen need to make a profit in order to continue operating renders them prima facie suspect, if it doesn’t outright undercut any claim that they might have to contribute to the public good.

    It is the ingratitude that kills me the most among anti-business types. The materials that furnish a single room in an American home required daring, perseverance, and organizational skill from millions of individuals over generations. I hope they all got filthy rich.

    Mac Donald takes some heat in the comments for not noting that big business is plenty blameworthy when it engages in shenanigans designed to block new entrants and hobble competitors, which I think is a fair point but not one that undermines her basic argument. (The most common way for established behemoths to insulate themselves from market forces, after all, is by enthusiastically supporting legislative efforts to establish licensing and “quality” standards that pile on business expenditures that only large organizations can afford.) The idea that government stands disinterestedly apart from private enterprise, defending the public good and (snarf!) increasing cost efficiency, is a joke. The idea that government power somehow tempers human greed in a way private-sector power does not is an exceedingly odd one, though its obvious why some people have an interest in propagating it.

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